How could her troublemaking go unnoticed by Guan Zheng? Perhaps he didn’t notice right away due to his humiliation, but afterwards he realized the truth of the matter. Despite this, he still didn’t let the people related to the wedding off. In his twisted heart, those who discussed this marriage and arranged this marriage with him were all people who failed to guard his bride properly. They were all part of the reason he had suffered this humiliation. Therefore, all of them had to pay!
At that time he had yet to refine the ghost Gu. He had merely made note of it while researching ancient witchcraft. The death of his bride stimulated him into refining this sort of terrifying Gu technique. He first secretly replaced the bride’s body, keeping her in a newly deceased state. Then, he controlled his many “enemies” into jumping off a cliff, and used their corpses in the refining process. Once he refined the ghost Gu, he cast it upon the bride, preventing her from being free of him despite having become a ghost!
Ah Wu had long since gone into hiding. Yet while others weren’t able to find her, Guan Zheng could. He didn’t kill her. He wanted her to suffer the same pain and unwillingness he experienced since birth. He afflicted her with a strange type of Gu that prevented any part of her from coming into contact with heat or the slightest bit of sun. While she lived, she would have to remain in dark corners like a bug. Her days would be lonely and savage. Even after death, she would still be a lonely and savage ghost!
He also told her to never appear before him again. Otherwise, he would make her into a “Gu person”. She would become a tool he used to harm others, forever under his control!
Thus Ah Wu stayed in the depths of the jungle like a savage for decades, unable to go home, talk to people, or enjoy a normal life. Today, she decided to be free of this endless punishment and face the sins of her past.
She confessed everything to Ruan Zhan and asked him to save her. Death was terrifying, but living in despair and intense self-loathing was even more painful. So Ruan Zhan asked her to guard the northern position of the four-way formation, and used the information she provided on Guan Zheng to decide on the plan to trap him.
But the instant she encountered Guan Zheng, she still grew frightened due to his might and started hesitating. She only firmed up her decision to seek freedom due to Wan Li’s words, putting down all her fears. Her heart no longer wavered.
Die! Once Guan Zheng dies, everyone he afflicted with Gu would be freed, apart from those with ghost Gu. Even if it failed, she would have at least atoned for her sins!
The other variable in the four-way formation was the female ghost who guarded the western side. Asking her to come was Wan Li’s idea. The reason he managed to think of this powerful helper was because he told Xiao Xia the story of the past. That matter had enlightened him.
If Ah Wu erred due to jealousy, this female ghost had taken the wrong path due to love. She had been lucky and was given a second chance. The Bao father and son had taken her deep into the mountains to cultivate. She would do good for the sake of those tragic victims so they would be blessed in their next life.
She was that weird infant’s mother, the one who cultivated the Yinyang Eyes, Duan Jin!
Initially, Ruan Zhan hadn’t been willing to do it. His father and Bao Da Tong’s father had made a deal to help their respective children once. Uncle Bao had fulfilled his promise ten years ago. Yet Ruan Zhan’s father had passed away already and was unable to help Bao Da Tong ever again. Making another request now was difficult for someone as proud as him.
But Wan Li figured they were asking for Duan Jin’s help and the Bao father and son didn’t have to make a move. Furthermore, Guan Zheng had harmed countless people. If she helped get rid of him, it would count as a huge act of benevolence for Duan Jin. This was extremely beneficial for her.
Therefore, Ruan Zhan secretly invited Duan Jin to hold down the western side. Although Duan Jin had agreed once Uncle Bao had given permission, she still hated Ruan Zhan and Wan Li. Despite having cultivated for ten years, she was still a mother who had lost her child. No matter how evil that child was, it was still her only one.
Therefore, she would only do as promised: prevent Guan Zheng from escaping and cooperate with the other three sides in the formation. She definitely wouldn’t care about anything else. If Ruan Zhan wasn’t able to hold Guan Zheng off, it would already be a blessing if she didn’t kick him while he was down!
The trouble was this small valley’s characteristics were identical to the one where they encountered calamity back then. Even the small pond and waterfall were the same. If this scene stirred Duan Jin’s memories, causing her to act against them, Ruan Zhan’s group would be done for!
After cultivating for a decade, her Yinyang Eyes had become even more powerful. Although it would be useful in containing Guan Zheng, it would be a catastrophe if she became an enemy!
Moreover, during this entire battle, Ruan Zhan had been the main counter to the more powerful Guan Zheng. He had persisted with great effort, using his wits and courage to break several of Guan Zheng’s treasures with difficulty. Although a large portion of their opponent’s power had been reduced and they now had the advantage, Ruan Zhan was also injured. His stamina was also reaching its limits.
On the surface Guan Zheng seemed to have been forced into the four-way formation without any way to escape. They held the absolute advantage. Yet at the same time, they were forcing him to go all out. He couldn’t take a single step back, because that would mean death!
”Start the formation!” Ruan Zhan’s voice broke the dangerous silence in the valley.
At this time, the moon quietly came out of the thick clouds, hanging high above the small valley. The cold light shining down became witness to the battle about to unfold.
Xiao Xia looked at Ruan Zhan worriedly. He had stood up once again while panting, lifting the bloodwood sword and pointing it at Guan Zheng. Although his face was pale, his expression was firm and determined.
He was cold like a blade once again! She didn’t feel nervous at this critical juncture. Her whole heart was focused on Ruan Zhan. Although one side of the square formation was around six meters long, she was still able to see the smallest change in expression on his face due to the enchanted eye drops he had given them in advance.
She saw him pursing his lips tightly. There was a streak of blood across his high nose-bridge and his eyes shone brightly, staring at Guan Zheng unblinkingly. He looked assured of his victory, making Xiao Xia understand the meaning of the phrase: when enemies meet on a narrow path, courage wins out. He had incomparable courage, so he would definitely defeat the opponent. This would be the case no matter who it was, let alone just an insignificant Guan Zheng. Wan Li cried out in confirmation in response to Ruan Zhan. He took out one of the talismans stacked on the limestone, and immediately threw it into the incense burner in front of him. This was to activate the formation. Although it was different from the talismans on the walls of the octagonal building, the effects were the same. Ruan Zhan had said before: formations needed to be adapted to the terrain. As soon as the talisman was put into the unlit incense burner, it immediately burst into flames. Everyone present felt the surrounding air start flowing abnormally. The four-way formation had been activated. From this moment on, unless the formation was broken or dispelled, no one would be able to get out! Wan Li immediately threw two more talismans into the burner as prearranged, and picked up the crude wooden sword in his left hand. His right hand held the wooden bat and he sternly stood guard beside the burner, observing Guan Zheng who was in the middle of the formation. Guan Zheng didn’t dare to be careless and stood focused for several seconds. As if to discern the direction of the wind, he sneered and suddenly threw the black wooden stick into the air. At the same time, he started chanting strings of spells.
He spoke the local dialect of the tribe and no one could understand him. They all looked towards Ah Wu. Yet her puzzled expression indicated she didn’t know what kind of treasure the black wooden stick refined by Guan Zheng was.
The stick didn’t fall after being thrown in the air. Weirdly enough, it remained suspended high in the air. Stranger still, the two foot long solid wooden stick actually started emitting black smoke from somewhere.
”Poison smoke, be careful!” Ruan Zhan shouted.
Although four sides guarded this formation, everything would proceed based on his orders.
He had just finished speaking when he drew a symbol between his own brows, sealing off his breath. Xiao Xia and Wan Li each took out a talisman from their pockets and stuck it to their chest. They also put on gas masks that they took out from the bamboo basket.
Ruan Zhan knew there were many ways to transmit Gu poison. A powerful witch could do so not only via oral intake, but also via inhalation or even skin contact. Guan Zheng was a genius in Gu techniques. He also possessed divine gifts. Therefore, Ruan Zhan had made careful preparations.
Seeing the situation, Ah Wu immediately pulled up the bush next to her. She chanted a few spells and stuffed it into her mouth. Duan Jin merely waved her hand in front of her face, changing it from that of a beauty to one that looked like a rigid mask. It was the Japanese kabuki mask from back then. As a ghost, she didn’t breathe and had no skin. However, since Guan Zheng could use ghost Gu, who knew whether he had other ways to deal with spirits? They naturally had to take precautions!
Guan Zheng ignored the actions of Ruan Zhan and the rest as he continued to chant. Within moments, the valley illuminated by moonlight had once again fallen into extreme darkness.
The darkness was so dense that those within felt they had no eyes. It couldn’t just be described as being unable to see your fingers in front of your face. You’d at least know whether you were standing or sitting in that case. This darkness disrupted spatial perception, and along with the billowing air that spread a nauseating fishy smell, it made them feel as if they were in the black seas of hell.
”Shit, this old guy put us in an ink bottle!” Wan Li grumbled.
His voice helped steady Xiao Xia who had almost fallen over due to the lack of perception. She groped her way to the large limestone and steadied herself with some trouble. She was about to say something when a flash of light appeared in Ruan Zhan’s direction.
Xiao Xia knew that it was his illumination talisman. He had used it before when he fought those ghosts at the bottom of the river. However, perhaps due to Guan Zheng’s power or Ruan Zhan’s injuries, his talisman only lit up a small area. It was like a spotlight that only illuminated an area of a few meters around him. Xiao Xia and Wan Li could see him, but he couldn’t see them.
Ruan Zhan took out another illumination talisman and pointed it towards the north. That talisman flew over like an arrow, a ray of light that broke through the darkness. But there was a snap and it fell from the air.
”Don’t panic!” Ruan Zhan said solemnly.
A cold smile came in response. It had come from where the talisman had fallen. Guan Zheng had clearly intercepted it with sorcery.
”Duan Jin, use your Yang Eye to illuminate that area.” Ruan Zhan ordered.
He knew that was an object of utmost Yang, and he felt that the surrounding dark fog had an extremely Yin aura. It was probably also refined in some pile of corpses or perhaps a tomb. As long as an object of extreme Yang appeared and he affixed his illumination talisman on it, the surrounding fog would be dispersed.
However, no movement came from Duan Jin’s direction. He repeated his words loudly but there was still no response. His heart went cold. This uncertain variable had still brought him trouble in the end. She had promised to guard the western side and not let Guan Zheng escape from her direction. She would do this, but she wasn’t willing to help with anything else. She still hated them for destroying that evil infant!
They couldn’t see anything within the fog, but Guan Zheng could. But Ruan Zhan wasn’t afraid of Guan Zheng taking the opportunity to escape. This formation was like a barrier that trapped everyone inside a box. He was only afraid Guan Zheng would ambush the others from within the darkness. Ah Wu was just a Daoist Matron with some supernatural powers. She was only able to resist to some extent due to her familiarity with Guan Zheng’s spells. Wan Li and Xiao Xia were ordinary people. If Guan Zheng attacked them in the dark, they wouldn’t just be unable to retaliate. They would be a quite some danger.
Within the formation, Duan Jin was the only one who could compete against Guan Zheng in terms of power. Now that she was unwilling to help and he was unable to leave his position, he had to think of another way to deal with Guan Zheng’s black fog!
As if in response to his analysis, a splash rang out from the pool. He knew that Guan Zheng was about to wade through this waist-high pool. On the other side of it was where Wan Li and Xiao Xia guarded the east.
The east was the formation’s life-gate and it was also next to a waterfall, which symbolized flowing movement. Guan Zheng would definitely try to escape from there. Although he would wonder why the two weakest people were sent to guard the most important position, he was in a hurry to leave. He would definitely figure it was because Ruan Zhan trusted Wan Li and Xiao Xia. He didn’t even have time to go around the pool, and chose to wade through it directly instead.
Guan Zheng couldn’t be allowed to attach the east!
In his anxiety, Ruan Zhan hardened his heart. He softly chanted a spell and then called loudly, “Xiao Xia, let go!” With a swish through the air, the tattered banner Xiao Xia had been holding on to this whole time was withdrawn.
Feeling the slightly cold metal banner in his hand, he brandished it towards the west. “Don’t force me to absorb you!” He said coldly and forcefully, “Since you promised to help, listen to my orders. Otherwise, it won’t matter how many years you’ve practiced the Dao or how many good deeds you’ve done. If you go against me, I definitely won’t stand on ceremony! ”
There was still dead silence on Duan Jin’s side. His words seemed to melt into the air without any effect. The sound of splashing water grew louder, signifying Guan Zheng had already reached the center of the pool!
Ruan Zhan face westwards. Although he couldn’t see, he felt the dense ghostly aura there. He knew Duan Jin hadn’t left, but she firmly refused to help.
He hardened his heart and poured all his spirit and willpower into the tattered banner.
Along with his shout, the tattered banner suddenly became bigger! This time, it wasn’t just half as tall as a person. It had grown taller than a person. The metal banner gleamed faintly red, like ripples in water. It started exuding a fierce suction towards the west!
Due to his anxiety, Ruan Zhan had subconsciously released another layer of his sealed abilities!